Friday, May 23, 2014

Who is Melchizedek?

In Hebrews 7:1-3 it says:

1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,  2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,”  3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. Hebrews 7:1-3

Let’s look at some of the characteristics of Melchizedek.

1. He was King of Salem. Salem means peace. He was the King of Peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6. It says:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Is there a relationship between the King of Peace and the Prince of Peace?

2. He was a priest of the Most High God.

In Mark 5:7 Jesus cast out a demon:

And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” Mark 5:7

The Most High God is the God the Father. Melchizedek was a priest of God the Father.

3. Abraham was blessed by Him.

Paul point out in Hebrews 7:7 that the “the lesser is blessed by the better."

Melchizedek is greater than Abraham.

4. Abraham paid tithe to Him.

Paul explains in Hebrews 7:9,10 that because Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek, Abraham’s descendent Levi did as well. Paul says:

9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak,  10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Hebrews 7:9,10

His name means King of Righteousness.

Paul writes:

“There is none righteous, no, not one; Romans 3:10

But according to Psalm 116:5 God is righteous. The bible says:

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful. Psalm 116:5

5. According to Paul Melchizedek is the King of Righteousness.

6. He is without father or mother. He does not have a genealogy. He does not have beginning of days or end of life. Now some people say that Paul is simply pointing to the fact that there is no record of Melchizedek’s genealogy. But this does not agree with the point that Paul is making. In the next verse Paul says:

Now consider how great this man was, Hebrews 7:4

It is counterintuitive that Paul would be arguing for the greatness of Melchizedek and then mention that no one recorded his genealogy or knew who is parents or when he was born or died. There is another more biblical explanation for why Paul said that Melchizedek did not have a father or mother, genealogy or beginning or end of days. The explanation is found when we compare Hebrews 7:3 with Hebrews 7:8. Paul adds:

And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. Hebrews 7:8

Paul is contrasting the fact that the priests of the Levitical order die with the fact that Melchizedek still lives. The word “here” refers to the Levitical priesthood and the word “there” and “he” refers to Melchizedek. Putting this together with Hebrews 7:3 we can see that Paul mentions that Melchizedek is without a father or mother, without a genealogy and has no beginning or end of days because he is eternal and still lives. This is even further evidenced by the next point.

7. He is made like the Son of God in that He remains a priest continually. In other words Melchizedek is like Jesus because they are both priests continually.

In the Review and Herald Ellen White wrote:

It was Christ that spoke through Melchisedec, the priest of the most high God. Melchisedec was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. {RH February 18, 1890, par. 10}

Ellen White uses the exact phrase “the representative of the Father” 36 times. 35 times Ellen White uses this phrase for Jesus. She only uses it one other time to refer to Melchizedek. This strongly implies that Melchizedek is very similar to Christ. But as Ellen White and the bible make clear Melchizedek is not Christ. Who is He then? Here is another passage from Ellen White:

God has never left Himself without witness on the earth. At one time Melchisedek represented the Lord Jesus Christ in person, to reveal the truth of heaven, and perpetuate the law of God (Letter 190, 1905). {1BC 1092.8}

Let’s look at the three characteristics of Melchizedek in the passage from Ellen White.

1. Melchizedek represented the Lord Jesus Christ in Person. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit:

13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. John 16:13,14

2. Melchizedek revealed the truth of heaven. Again Jesus says:

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; John 16:13

3. Melchizedek perpetuated the law of God. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit:

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: John 16:7,8

The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. Paul says about the law:

…for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

Melchizedek came to perpetuate the law of God and the Holy Spirit convicts of sin just as the law gives us knowledge of sin.

The role of Melchizedek and the Holy Spirit seem to be similar if not identical. Notice what Ellen White has to say about the role of the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high.—The Desire of Ages, 669

Like the Holy Spirit Melchizedek also represented Christ. In addition Melchizedek is the representative of the Father: a role, according to Ellen White, that he shares only with Christ.

The Holy Spirit is also the representative of the Father. Jesus says:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26

In conclusion Melchizedek is the King of Peace and the King of Righteousness. Melchizedek is the priest of the Most High God, which is the Father. Melchizedek is greater than Abraham because Melchizedek blessed Abraham and Abraham paid tithes to him. Melchizedek is still alive and has always lived. Finally Melchizedek performed the same role as the Holy Spirit by representing the Father and Christ, revealing the truth of heaven and perpetuating the law of God.

There is no way to definitively identify Melchizedek but there is a lot of evidence both in the bible and the Spirit of Prophecy to connect Melchizedek with the role of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Is God described as an Angel in the bible?


Is God described as an Angel in the bible? Let's begin in Judges 13. In this chapter we find the Angel of the Lord speaking to Manoah and his wife, the parents of Samson. When Manoah realizes who the Angel of the Lord is he wants to make an offering to Him. The bible says:

19   So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on—  20 it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.  21 When the Angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the LORD. 

22   And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” 

Manoah offered the goat and the grain to the Angel of the Lord and the Angel of the Lord did not refuse it. Instead He received the offering and ascended in the flame of the offering. This alone tells us that the Angel of the Lord is God. But notice also that when the Angel of the Lord goes up in the flame the bible tells us that Manoah and his wife knew that the man was the Angel of the Lord. But Manoah doesn't just think that the man was any angel he told his wife that they had seen God.  

Let’s go back to verse 17,18 and look at something else concerning the Angel of the Lord.

17   Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?” 

18   And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” 

The Angel of the Lord asks why Manoah wants to know His name seeing that it is wonderful. In Isaiah 9:6 we read about someone whose name is wonderful. The bible says:

6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

This passage talks about a child being given to God’s people and like the Angel of the Lord His name will be called wonderful. This child is called Mighty God. So Manoah said that when he saw the Angel of the Lord that he had seen God and the child that is given to Israel is also called God. Finally both the Angel of the Lord and the child given to Israel are called wonderful. 

Let’s look at another passage in Isaiah 63:9 that identifies God as an Angel. It says:

9 In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old. 

In this passage the Angel of God’s presence saves Israel and redeems them. The bible tells us that Jesus is our redeemer saying in Galatians 3:13:

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 

There are many times in the bible where God is identified as an angel. Hosea describes the story when Jacob wrestled with the Angel saying:

Hosea 12:3,4:

3 He (Jacob) took his brother by the heel in the womb,
And in his strength he struggled with God. 
4 Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed;

Very clearly in this passage Hosea identifies the person that wrestled with Jacob as being both God and an Angel.

In Genesis 16 the Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid and the mother of Abraham’s son Ishmael.  

9   The Angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.”  10 Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” 

Notice that the Angel of the Lord says to Hagar  He would multiply her descendants. Very similar language is used in Genesis 2 when God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Notice how Hagar responds in verse 13:

13 Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You–Are–the–God–Who–Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” 

Hagar says that the Angel of the Lord that spoke to her is the God who sees. She know this because she says I have also here seen Him who sees me. Hagar saw the Angel of the Lord and she identified Him as God. Now this text not only identifies the Angel of the Lord as God but it also identifies the Angel of the Lord as Christ because Jesus says that no one has seen the Father except Himself in John 6:46. This means that Hagar must have seen a pre-incarnate Christ.

The Angel of the Lord also speaks to Abraham in Genesis 22. In Genesis 22:2 God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Then in Genesis 22:12 the Angel of the Lord says to Abraham:

“Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 

Notice that the Angel of the Lord says that Abraham has not withheld his son Isaac from Him. In other words the Angel of the Lord claims that He was the one that asked Abraham to offer his son. By claiming to be the one that asked Abraham to offer his son the Angel of the Lord is claiming to be God.

In Exodus 3 we see that the Angel of the Lord appears to Moses from within the midst of a burning bush. The bible says in the very next verse that when Moses turns to actually look at the bush the bible tells that God calls from the midst of the bush. This means that the Angel of the Lord and God are one and the same. This is further illustrated by the fact that God tells Moses in verse 4 to take off his sandals because the place where he is standing is holy ground and the Commander of the Lord’s army tells Joshua to do the same thing in Joshua 5:15. Both the Angel of the Lord/God and the Commander of the Lord's army say that the place where they are is holy ground. Holiness is an attribute of God and when we are in the presence of God we are on holy ground.

There is another way in which we can identify the Commander of the Lord's army as God. The word used in Joshua 5:15 for army is the Hebrew word tzeva. It also means host. Over and over again the Lord is called the Lord of tzeva or the Lord of hosts, i.e. Psalm 46:7; Psalm 59:5. 

The Commander of the Lord’s army is not just the Commander of the Lord’s army but also the Commander of the Lord’s host. Isaiah 13:14 tells us that it is the Lord of hosts that musters the army for battle and in 2 Samuel 7:26 the bible says that the Lord of hosts is God. This means that the Commander of the Lord’s army is the Lord of hosts and God. 

Let's look at what the Angel of the Lord does in Judges 2:1:

“I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. 

The Angel of the Lord claims that He brought the Israelites out of Egypt and that He made the covenant with them. Jesus identifies Himself as the Messenger or Angel of the Covenant when He identified John the Baptist as the messenger that prepared the way for the Messenger of the covenant in Matthew 11:10. In Daniel 9 the bible tells us that the Messiah the prince would confirm the covenant with Israel for one week. 

The Hebrew word Messiah simply means anointed one. Jesus was anointed at His baptism as the Messiah by the Holy Spirit. In Daniel 9:25 the bible calls the Messiah the Prince. This means that Jesus is the Prince because He is the Messiah. But Jesus isn't just any prince He is our Prince of Peace according to Isaiah 9:6.

In another passage in the bible the angel Gabriel tells Daniel that he wanted to explain a vision that was recorded in Daniel 8,9. But Gabriel was not able to explain the vision right away because he could not make it past the prince of Persia. In order to make it past the prince of Persia Gabriel had to have the help of Michael, one of the chief princes. With Michael’s help Gabriel was immediately able to make it past the prince of Persia and explain the vision to Daniel in Daniel 10. Notice that in Daniel 10:21 Gabriel says:

But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince. 

Gabriel calls Michael “your prince.” Is Michael only Daniel’s Prince or is He the prince of the people of God. Daniel had been praying for the people of God in Daniel 9:4-Daniel 9:20. Thus when Gabriel said that Michael is “your Prince” the implication is that Michael is the Prince of God’s people. The only other times where the bible mentions a Prince of God’s people are found in the reference of "Messiah the Prince"  in Daniel 9:25 and the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6. 
Thus Michael is the Messiah the Prince of God’s people as well as the Prince of Peace.

In the New Testament we find that Michael is called Michael the archangel in Jude 9. Michael is the only person in all of the bible to be identified as the archangel. Michael means "who is like unto God" or "who is equal to God." 

Over and over again in the Old Testament the bible identifies God as an Angel. He is identified as the Angel of the Lord, the Angel that wrestled with Jacob, the Angel that accepted worship from Manoah and His wife, the Angel that redeemed Israel, and finally as Michael the archangel. But even though God is identified over and over as an Angel it is important to understand that God isn't just any ordinary Angel: He is the Angel of Yahweh. Yahweh means "I am who I am." Or in other words "the eternal self-existing one." He is God and He has no beginning or end. He is the creator of heaven and earth, the angels and all of the created universe. 

Are Jesus and Michael the same person?

Food for thought; the bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 

Who then is the Lord in this passage? Well Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:6 that there is:

yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

This tells us that there is only one Lord Jesus Christ. Thus when Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that the Lord will descend from heaven Paul is talking about Jesus. But why does Paul say that the Lord (Jesus Christ) will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel? Is Paul saying that the Lord is an archangel? Well first of all the only person in the bible called an archangel is Michael. The bible says in Jude 9:

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

This means that when the Lord (Jesus) descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel He is descending with the voice of Michael the archangel. Once again only Michael is called an archangel. What then is an archangel? The word archangel comes from the Greek word ἀρχάγγελος which literally is arch + angel and means chief angel. Thus the archangel is the chief angel. This means that Michael who is the only person in the bible called archangel is the chief angel.

But now let’s get back to 1 Thessalonians 4:16. We already have seen from the bible that “the Lord” is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6). We have also seen that the Lord Jesus Christ comes with the voice of of an archangel which can only be Michael because Michael is the only one called archangel in the bible (Jude 9). We have also seen that archangel simply means chief angel. So one final question; does all this mean that Jesus is Michael the archangel? To answer this let’s look at a passage in John 5:25. In this passage Jesus explains how the dead will rise at the resurrection. He says:

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 

In John 5:25 it is the Son of God’s (Jesus’) voice that raises the dead. In 1 Thessalonians  4:16 it is the voice of an archangel (Michael) that raises the dead in Christ. These two verses are describing the same event and the actions of the same person. The Lord is Jesus Christ the Son of God and Michael the archangel and when He descends from Heaven with a shout and the dead hear His voice they will live and rise first.